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A valley native who wanted to see a century

Contributed photoLongtime Basalt resident Margaret Darien died Thursday " on her 100th birthday.
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BASALT ” Margaret Darien proved her toughness and determination right up until her death.

The Roaring Fork Valley native and longtime Basalt resident died Thursday, early on her 100th birthday. Her daughter Shirley Darien said she thinks her mom willed herself to live to see the century mark.

“The good thing was all my brothers were here,” said Shirley, adding that two of her three brothers traveled from out of state. Shirley said Margaret was relieved to have them all by her side. A tear came to Margaret’s eye shortly before she died, Shirley said.



Family members were called to Margaret’s bedside on Wednesday night because of medical issues, but she held on until about 2:44 a.m. Thursday.

“We were afraid it would be 11:55,” Shirley said.



Margaret was born on a farm located on land that is now Aspen Glen. She graduated from Glenwood High School in 1926 and started a long career as a teacher the following year. She taught at one-room country schools at Emma, Snowmass, Catherine and El Jebel. And she taught several years at Basalt Elementary School before retiring in 1977.

“She loved to teach,” Shirley said. “She substituted until she was 85.” Margaret also could be found on the sidelines at basketball games until she was 93.

She always ran into her former students. “Every place we go someone will say, ‘I had your mom as a teacher,'” Shirley said.

A case in point was when Margaret was honored on her 99th birthday by the Basalt Town Council. Mark Kittle, a councilman at the time, noted that Mrs. Darien was his third- grade teacher.

“She touched a lot of people in the valley,” Shirley said.

Along with her long teaching career, Margaret and her husband Ben owned and operated the Basalt Supply store in the Kelley Building in downtown Basalt from 1944 until about 1968. The grocery and dry goods store was a hub for the ranchers around Basalt and Emma.

The store was where the Mason and Morse Real Estate office is now located; the Dariens lived above the store.

Shirley said her dad died in 1970. Her mom was able to live in her Basalt home, with Shirley’s help, until February.

A rosary will be held at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Glenwood Springs at 7 p.m. Monday. The funeral mass will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Stephen’s.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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